Interview: Allie Hanlon of Peach Kelli Pop on fluid musical lineups, Canadian roots, and Sailor Moon
There was a time in music when if you were the only constant musician in a band with a rotating cast rounding out the group, people would give you funny looks. They probably thought the primary member was hard to deal with, a perfectionist or just an irritable human being. Nowadays this unique structure has been more common due to the fact that musicians these days have hectic schedules and multiple commitments. Having a rotating cast makes a band less dependent on a particular member’s availability, giving the sole member more time to concentrate on fine tuning their sound. That’s what it’s like with Allie Hanlon and her garage rock band Peach Kelli Pop, who will be rolling through New England this weekend.
The crew from Los Angeles via Ottawa will be performing at the Middle East in Cambridge on Saturday (May 14) with Secret Lover, Gravel, and Electric Street Queens, and the following night they’ll be at Aurora in Providence with Pyramid, Neutrinos, and Laika’s Orbit. Ahead of both shows Vanyaland had a chat with Hanlon about why she prefers the current structure of her band, changing locations, switching labels, the influence of Sailor Moon on her style and what the rest of 2016 has in store.
Rob Duguay: What makes you prefer being joined on tour by various friends rather than having a concrete lineup?
Allie Hanlon: That’s just kind of how it worked out because it’s me that writes the songs and I write all of the different parts. I play the drums, then I write the bass lines and the guitar parts. Because it’s already pre-written that’s the format that it ends up being. I basically have to present the different band members with parts that have already been written. It would be nice to be in a kind of band where everyone contributes to the songwriting but this is just a different way. It’s also kind of easier because there aren’t four different opinions going into a song so it’s a little bit simpler in that aspect which can help.
Do you ever see Peach Kelli Pop becoming more than just you being the sole member and evolving into being an entire band?
I don’t think so. The first album started coming out in 2009 so this has been the way it’s been going since the start. It probably won’t end up changing, I guess anything can happen but I think the girls that are playing with me now are pretty content to have a less amount of responsibility and have everything ready. I think everyone is happy with the arrangement.
You started Peach Kelli Pop in Ottawa and you moved to Los Angeles in 2013. Ever since moving there, how has the change of scenery been for you? Do you find yourself collaborating with more musicians? Did it take any time adjusting to living in a different city?
Ottawa is very different from L.A. in lots of ways. As someone who plays in a band, most people in Ottawa aren’t playing in a band and looking at it as their career or as a viable source of income or something they should be taking more seriously than a hobby. That is good in some ways because it allows for you to be creative in a way that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on your songwriting, which can be really, really helpful. When you feel a lot of pressure in the sense of a song representing you forever and a song being really important to you as a person, it can make it a lot harder than if you’re just having fun with it.
With Ottawa because I guess people aren’t taking it as seriously in a career kind of way, maybe it allows people to be more open with the bands that they’re in, have more fun and even be a little bit more silly. In L.A., a lot of people take their music really seriously which is also great because you actually can use it as a source of income and a career and that’s really cool. There’s kind of an air of seriousness which I think is ridiculous but it’s also really cool that you can exist in L.A., be a musician and it’s looked at as a respected way of earning an income.
L.A. also has an illustrious musical history with bands coming out of there since the ’60s while Ottawa is not really known for being an artistically inclined city to live in.
You don’t really hear about anime being an influence on a musician but you’ve mentioned before that Sailor Moon is a primary influence on your style, even going as far as playing the theme live.
Does that go in a lyrical sense or musically as well? I can see how it can have an effect on the dream pop vibe Peach Kelli Pop has.
I think that it just kind of happened because the way the music sounds kind of goes hand-in-hand with a lot of anime. With something like Sailor Moon, which we cover the theme song of, it fits because of the high pitched vocals and it’s usually pretty driving, especially the last two albums. It’s energetic and fast paced so from that it just happened in a natural way.
Last month, Peach Kelli Pop released a 7-inch titled Halloween Mask off Lauren Records. The last two albums were released through Burger Records so what made you want to switch labels for this particular release?
Aaron Kovacs from Lauren Records has been putting on shows with Peach Kelli Pop for the past few years, even when we were still based in Ottawa. The first couple of times that we ever toured California, he put on some really awesome shows for us at this place in Pomona called the VLHS Warehouse.
I think I’ve heard of it actually.
Yeah. It stands for Vince Lombardi High School, like in the movie Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. Anyways, he put on really great shows, I got to know him, he runs a great label and he’s been asking me for a couple of years to put out something on his label. I was kind of dropping the ball for a while, not really writing songs and eventually I had three songs that I really liked and I wanted to put them out. He had been so great to work with that I hit him up to see if he still wanted to do a 7-inch and that’s how it happened.
It’s ideal to do a release with someone who you’ve had a lasting professional relationship with, it’s bound to happen one way or another. It just depends on how much time it’ll take.
After this spring tour in support of Halloween Mask, what can we expect from Peach Kelli Pop for the rest of the year?
I’m gonna write more music, I’m not sure about touring yet. I think we’re trying to go back to Japan but we’re not sure if that’s really going to happen, I hope it does though. I’m definitely going to go back to L.A. and write more music. I’m really excited about that so I don’t have any concrete plans yet except for working on more music. I’m not sure if it’s going to be an LP or what but we’ll see.
PEACH KELLI POP + SECRET LOVER + GAVEL + ELECTRIC STREET QUEENS :: Saturday, May 14 at the Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, MA :: 7 p.m., all ages, $12 :: Advance Tickets :: Facebook event page